By Jennifer Liberto from CNNMoney
The Treasury Department announced new sanctions Thursday against two alleged international crime groups, Yamaguchi-gumi of Japan and the Brothers' Circle, which spans several former Soviet nations.
Treasury is directing U.S. banks to freeze assets of nine members of the groups because they pose a "threat to the integrity of the U.S. financial system," said David S. Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Cohen declined to say how much money might be at stake.The sanctions are the first under a July presidential order directing federal agencies to target "significant" criminal organizations abroad, Cohen said.
Seven people facing sanctions are in the Brothers' Circle crime group and are involved in criminal activity in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, according to Treasury. Two of those members, Vladislav Leontyev, 40, of Russia and Vasily Khristoforov, 39, also of Russia, are allegedly involved in drug trafficking and a shooting that took place in a turf war within Russian organized crime over control of a precious metals enterprise, Treasury said.
The other mafia group that Treasury is targeting is the Japan-based Yamaguchi-gumi, which is allegedly involved in an array of black-market trading of weapons and drugs, as well as money laundering. The sanctions are aimed at the group and its leaders Kenichi Shinoda, 70, and Kiyoshi Takayama, 64, both of Japan.
"The power of these sanctions is that it exposes these individuals and makes it much more difficult for them to operate going forward," Cohen said.